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Stuart Parker deserves your attention

Stuart Parker, previously unknown to me, has precisely described the dynamic driving Canadian cultural and ideological conformity.

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As I predicted back in 2008, the people who now hold this belief that anything less than total control and absolute discipline is a sign of weakness and illegitimacy are now what pollsters politely call “the centre-left.”

Sadly, as with all broadly held cultural assumptions, these values concerning control, submission and dissent eventually escape their original context and run rampant through society. If people become convinced of a new moral order for how the world above them should run, it ultimately shakes down to the world below.

And we see this here with centre-left reaction to the national truckers’ protest in Ottawa. No permanent organization is running this protest, which appears to be built around social media, a GoFundMe page and a loose affiliation of local leadership groups developed in provincial protests by truckers over the past few years.

And of course, it does not represent all or even most truckers in the industry. The crew who are in Ottawa are whiter, more rural and more right-leaning than the industry as a whole, which is, in turn, whiter, more rural and more right-leaning than Canadian society as a whole. The folks in Ottawa are also more likely to be “owner-operators,” who have financed their heavy equipment through financial institutions. Those driving trucks owned by extended families or by trucking companies directly are much less likely to be part of the protest.

There is no doubt that a small fraction of these individuals are members of Canada’s tiny fascist militias, the Sons of Odin, the Proud Boys and other far-right political groups and that a disproportionate number voted for the People’s Party. In addition, the spirit of the protest and the issue it is taking up, vaccine passports, have attracted members of right-wing groups that are not themselves truckers but wish to express solidarity or see the protest as an organizing and recruitment opportunity.

Those of us who cut our teeth in the 1980s peace movement know this story well. The Vancouver Peace March used to attract 10% of the city’s population (50,000 protesters at its peak) for its annual walk across Burrard Bridge to support global nuclear disarmament. And, consequently, the vanguard of the march comprised the Trotskyites, Maoists and other communist sectarians and foreign dictator fan clubs who saw this as their big annual opportunity to radicalize and recruit ordinary anti-nuclear activists.

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Because Canadians, as a whole, but especially centre-left voters have now come to believe that the legitimacy of a movement inheres not in its size or the diversity of people and views it represents but rather in its ability to discipline and control its supporters, this protest looks both illegitimate and frightening. Not only is this protest not controlling the speech and signage of its members; it is celebrating its refusal to control these things and instead sticking to the basics of making sure protesters are nonviolent and law-abiding.

And, in progressive, urban Canada, this broad-brush guilt-by-association strategy exhumed from the 1980s appears to be working, no matter how intellectually lazy its journalistic practitioners are being.

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I am not writing this piece to advocate for the protest and its participants. I am writing this piece to ask Canadians like me whether we want our future protests to be judged and covered by standards applied to the truckers today. I am asking us to think about what happens to the horizon of possibility for mass organizing when we throw in with the idea that actual, authentic grassroots protests are a thing of the past and the only legitimate public demonstration is one choreographed from above, its participants carefully disciplined into reading from an identical script or into silence.

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As a person who, because I dissented from the progressive consensus on a single issue, has been smeared as a transphobe, homophobe, pedophile, white supremacist, racist and ableist in the past year and a half, I can no longer simply accept the opinion of centre-left media on whether someone is a dangerous, bigoted member of the alt-right. I can no longer trust the government-financed Canadian Anti-Hate Network on whether someone is a dangerous hatemonger because many of my comrades and I are on their list. And not everyone is going to be like me and check those claims against the facts. Most people will just start ignoring those claims.

There is a high price to pay when you decide to cry “wolf” over fascism in a political situation like our own, where the authoritarian threat is real and society-wide.

More importantly still, I am trying to sound a cultural alarm bell about the exaltation of order, disciple and control as Canadians’ primary political values. The fact is that those values are authoritarian. In a nation wherein rapid, dramatic change is not just a moral necessity but an ecological one, we need to retain the capacity for mass mobilization and our capacity to resist an authoritarian regime, irrespective of whether it calls itself progressive or conservative.

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Amen

They can’t help themselves: the divine right of being Liberal

I used to be the token conservative at a weekend gathering of Liberals in the lakes south west of Ottawa. It gathered a good bunch of people for talk, silly clever  word games, and more talk. They belonged to the Martinite faction of the Liberal party of Canada. This means that they had lost to the Chretien-ite majority. Some leading members of the group left for Reform, and stayed there. They were regarded by the remainers as lost sheep, but they were accepted. But on the whole the group had been young activists in the Trudeau the Greater period, ministerial assistants, activists, and they had all the virtues of the Canadian Liberal; bright, optimistic, active, and connected.

Several years of close acquaintance on these pleasant autumn weekends have led me to certain conclusions, and I have never had any reason to recant or modify them. And please recall these were the better sort of Liberal. I have met much worse and they share this characteristic I am about to describe.

They feel themselves to be morally superior. They are Liberal because they are morally superior. And they are morally superior because they are Liberal. This is the core belief. This explains many things about them. In policy terms they can switch from nationalist to free traders, from low tax libertarians to high tax collectivists, without any qualms. Because policy as such has no importance to them. What matters is being Liberal. To be Liberal is to be a better sort of person.

So of course they are not to be assessed by the outcomes of their actions. That would be unfair. They are to be measured by their good intentions. This is why I say about them that they cannot help themselves.

The unelected Liberal Kielburger brothers and the Liberal politicians Trudeau and Morneau are not to be judged by the obvious corruption of the financial arrangements between the WE charity and Trudeau’s family. They are to be judged by the obvious good intentions of the charity that the Kielburgers run. Of course Justin Trudeau is not corrupt, nor is his mother Margaret, nor his brother Sascha, the fanboy of Fidel Castro.

If you feel that you enjoy the divine right of Kings, you behave like Charles I. If you find yourself on trial for treason to the state, as King Charles did, your answer would be: “I am the state”.

If you feel you enjoy the divine right of being Liberal,  you do not need explanations, excuses, or reasons. What you do is for the best, by definition. So what I suggest, for the betterment of our country, is a state trial of Trudeau and Morneau for corruption. Where is our Cromwell?

“The self-flattery of the vision of the left gives its true believers a huge ego stake in that vision which means that mere facts are unlikely to make them reconsider, regardless of what evidence piles up against the vision of the left and regardless of its disastrous consequences.” – Thomas Sowell

The Vision of the Anointed: Self -Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, 1996

 

Trudeau in costume

My reaction is: so what? All those opposed to political correctness should see this non-issue for what it is. In a few years people will wonder what an earth made this a “controversial” or embarrassing moment. I especially ask Conservatives to think about what trouble they create for themselves by empowering this kind of retroactive political correctness. Everyone in the past was guilty of something that PC condemns. It is all so 1984.

Failing to build pipelines – that is the issue for which Trudeau the Lesser should be deposed.

Mr. Dress-up